Commentary by David Fialk
RISMEDIA, June 9, 2009-A look into the daily life of a REALTOR®:
Working with buyers: Jobs range from working with new buyers, to doing buyer follow-up, showing appointments, contract presentations, inspections, appraisals, transaction follow-up and closings.
Working with sellers: From new list leads to FSBOs, expired listings, list lead follow up, price opinions, listing appointments, showing feedback, price reductions, contract presentations, inspections, appraisals, transaction follow-up, and closings, there’s no shortage of work.
For past customers, personal contacts and sphere of influence and business contacts: While calling, visiting and mailing may sound simple, these tasks can take a large part of the day.
If you’re not managing your real estate career, your real estate clients and leads as a business and a database of future income, someone else will be. It is amazing, but how common is it to hear statements like these in a real estate office:
“I can’t believe they listed with…, I’ve known them for…”
“I was just there last month, I can’t believe they didn’t call me back to list their home”
” I must have showed them 20 homes before the holidays, I can’t believe they started looking at homes again and didn’t call me”
The question is not whether the listing or sale was lost to a competitor, but more so, what was done or not done in between in follow up with the buyer or seller lead?
Real estate agents have buyer and seller contacts everywhere. They have customers and leads in appointment books, in a day-timer, in spiral notebooks and even on memo notepad paper. Others use buyer qualifying cards or index cards. Most have clients’ phone numbers in their cell phone. Many use the MLS system to record information and send listing information. Why not have all client contact information, appointments, scheduling activities and e-mail all in one place and, better yet, at your fingertips on a PDA phone?
In real estate we will never sell every buyer we show homes to or list every home that we make a listing appointment on. However, not doing things in follow up such as sending a follow thank-you note, sending updated information and just calling to say hello is a sure fire way of not getting business. It is the easiest part of the real estate business, but the most difficult for Realtors to commit to.
There is only so much that can be expected to be remembered. There is a better, more efficient, way to remember to do what needs to be done rather than trusting the memory. Everyone in business has a mailing list, even if it is only used for holiday cards or calendars. Real estate contact management is not a real estate mailing list! We all know people, and a database should be filled with the people we know. At some time, every person who bought a home will sell it. It is simply a matter of knowing who will be selling more sooner than later, and providing follow up information to be the real estate professional in the right place at the right time to earn the business.
Developing systems for client follow up is the key to maintaining a steady source of buyer and seller transactions. In fact, it may be more important today than in the recent past. There are many buyers and sellers who have started the process of buying or selling and then changed their minds due to economic conditions, employment concerns or personal situations among others. Just as the initial decision was made to buy or sell, those same reasons will be what makes buyers and homeowners decide to try again in the future. The need to buy or sell still exists; it was the timing that was wrong. What is being done right now to be in the right place at the right time when the decision is made to buy or sell a home?
Contact management software is the solution. It is the only way to manage real estate activities for the real estate professional! It is software designed to manage clients and leads, appointments, follow up, tasks, appointments, marketing campaigns, mail, e-mail, transactions and everything else a real estate professional needs to do to insure a steady flow of new, repeat and referral business. And more importantly, to make sure that follow up does not fall between the cracks and listing and sale opportunities are not lost.
Real estate contact management software can integrate client contact information and details with calendar and task scheduling functions, e-mail, mail merge, campaign activities, transaction activities and more. It can do everything except meet with the client. Sorry to say, real estate agents still have to get up and get out in order to do that. No real estate software is designed to replace the personal side of client follow up.
Client follow up is all about consistency and should consist of phone calls, mail, face-to-face communication, e-mail, text messaging, blogging and social networking. Making just one phone call, sending one letter or postcard or sending one e-mail or text message is not enough to keep your name in the front of the prospect’s mind when they desire real estate services. The key to converting new business is being consistent with follow up activities.
Contact follow up is about impressions. The major corporations know all about this in their advertising and marketing. How many times does it take to deliver a message to a consumer for them to remember it, associate it and recall it? Real estate follow up is no different. Not seen, always forgotten.
Start making impressions in real estate. Put aside excuses. Stop trusting the memory for client follow up.
Invest in your real estate career and utilize a contact management program in your daily real estate activities and make your database your lifeline to future real estate success and personal income.
Licensed since 1971, David Fialk, CRB, CRS, ABR, GRI, e-Pro Certified Internet Professional, is the broker/owner of Choice Realty Co., Iselin, NJ and provides Real Estate Sales Seminars and Training. He can be reached at 732-283-3400 or David@ChoiceRealty.com.
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